Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Cod fish cakes with a cold potato salad

For a seafood hater, I seem to be posting quite a few seafood recipes right? I'm surprised myself..but Ro's new rule is that we should have fish atleast twice a week and me with all my nagging has cut it down to once a week. Honestly, if its masalafied and made as per my liking, I don't mind having them..which is exactly what i did with these cod steaks.
England is known for its fish and chips and when we had guests 2 weeks back, we took them to this authentic fish and chips joint called The Golden Hind. Of course there was nothing other than fish and chips and mushy peas and I decided to just have some batter fried squid rings which was an appetizer. Nope, my husband would not let me go with just the other normal sounding item was cod fish cakes and so i ordered those. They were so darn fishy (if you know what i mean) that i couldn't finish it. Braved my way through one half and then traded it for Ro's Haddock which was bearable, but preferred to munch on the chips instead. So i thought I'd recreate it at home the way i like, and yes, it was bearable.
Yeah i know im a disgrace to all the mallu's out there..but hey, Ive atleast evolved to having fish once a week:)

Cod fish cakes
Boneless, skinless cod steaks- 350 gms (2 medium size fillets)
Asian shallots- 2, roughly chopped
Garlic- 2 pods, roughly chopped
Chopped parsley- a handful
Salt- to season
Pepper- to season
Olive oil- 1 tbsp
Vegetable oil- to fry

Potato- 1 medium, boiled, peeled and mashed
Egg- 1
Bread crumbs- 3 tbsp (optional)

Cut the cod steaks into bite size pieces and steam for about 5 to 6 minutes till flaky. Break it up into smaller flakes and keep aside.
In a frying pan, heat some olive oil and sauté the shallots and garlic till translucent.
Add the flaked up fish and mix well, season with salt and pepper and the parsley. Keep aside to cool.
Once cool, add the mashed potato, egg and bread crumbs and mix well with your hand till everything is combined well.
Make small patties and shallow fry in oil...about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
Drain on paper towels and serve them hot with a salad.

Notes: Any white fish like haddock or cobbler can be used.
You can fill a saucepan with 1/4th water, place the cod in it, close and cook till it becomes flaky. Then drain the water and break it up into smaller pieces. I just used a steamer so it was much easier.
You can bake the patties if you prefer that...I'm not really sure how long ud need to keep them though.
I think this was so much more easier than cutlets... :)

Cold Potato Salad
Always a pleaser, this salad had made its entry quite a few times and is a life saver when I'm low on things to make :)

Baby potatoes- 5 medium, boiled and cut into cubes
Yoghurt- 2 tbsp
Garlic mayo- 1 tbsp
Chives- a handful
Orange pepper- one half, chopped into small cubes
Salt and pepper- to season

Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped chives. See I told you it was way too easy to pass:)

PS: Sorry i left this out..I would like to thank Neetz, Suja and Aipi for the wonderful awards they have showered upon me. Thanks a lot girls..its great to have such good friends in the blog world.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Spanish- style prawn and chorizo skewers

We have a George Foreman Grill which we put to continuous use...especially to grill burger patties and now, we even make pancakes in them. Since the weather in this part of the world is quite unpredictable, and since we've had bad luck with bbq's all the time, we have to depend on indoor grills like these to feel all summery. 
What i love about this grill is, how everything gets cooked so fast. I would also have to agree its a much healthier option, since the oil drips down. It has indeed made us highly fond of grilling and this prawn and chorizo on skewer is such an easy bbq/ grill idea that the whole thing is ready in a matter of 15 minutes, i.e, if you are really not keen on a half hour marinating period (like us) 
All said and done, George Foreman Grill or not, these can be whipped up in the oven or on stove top as well. So the next time you have a bbq planned, make sure this is def. on your menu.

King Prawns- 250 grams or about 25 to 30, deveined but preferably with tail on.
Mild paprika- 1 tsp
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Garlic cloves- 2, lightly crushed
Olive oil- 2 tbsp
Chorizo sausages- about 15 to 16 small slices
Chopped parsley- 2 tsp (I used about 1 tbsp dried parsley)
Pepper powder- to taste
Chilli powder- 1/4 tsp (optional)
Wooden skewers- 8, soaked in cold water for atleast 1/2 an hour

Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and marinate the prawns and chorizo in it for half an hour or more. I didnt have the patience, so i used it immediately and it tasted just fine.
Thread the prawns and chorizo, alternating, on to each skewer.
If using an electric grill or bbq cook for about 3 to 4 minutes max on each side.
If using the grill mode in the oven, then preheat the oven to 175C and grill for about 6 to 7 minutes, each side..the oil from the chorizo oozes out, so keep a baking paper on a tray and do the needful.
On stove top, heat a large enough frying pan or griddle pan and do the 3 minute on each side cooking method...again loads of oil will ooze out of the chorizo. Drain on paper towels if necessary.
You can squeeze a lime on top if needed...season with more pepper and serve as an appetizer.
Notes: Chorizo can be replaced with veggies as well..peppers, zucchini, onions etc.
I had guests waiting to dig in and so couldn't take pics of the end result.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Double layer chocolate cake filled and frosted with a Baileys Irish cream ganache

OK, this was definitely not easy and I don't think it would make its way back into my kitchen. Not something ud want to hear from a food blogger, but seriously, it was no cake walk. You might have noticed that chocolate has not really made its presence felt on my blog. Its not because I dislike chocolate, but I don't really like it an awesome lot to actually give it a major importance either, unlike Ro who would worship the chocolate god (if there was one). He will only order a chocolate ice cream at Thorntons, have the Belgian dark choc ice cream from Haagen-Dazs and buy chocolate bars with more than 70 percent cocoa to munch on..all other chocolates are not 'real' chocolates, I believe.
Last week we had taken a Thorntons triple layer chocolate cake to a friends picnic party and Ro had been going on and on about how awesome it was and he wouldn't stop at that...but insist I bake a choc cake for him. My reaction was..if Thorntons tasted so darn good, why pester me..just head to Sainsburys and pick one up. Oh but that wouldn't be fun..he had to get his wife to slog it out and bake a choc cake which, by the way, I had already posted on my blog (My moms beat and bake chocolate cake which was the easiest cake ever). So something new I decided to try and since Thorntons was one of my inspirations or rather as a revenge I decided to go all out and bake a two layer cake and fill it and frost it. Bad idea, oh yes, incredibly screwed up idea, especially for someone whose concentration levels are zero, not to mention patience and laziness.
For starters, I only have one 9 inch cake pan and have to clean it, wash it, butter it and line it once I'm done with the first cake. This is such a waste of time because I have to wait close to 2 hours just to start on my second cake. So by the time I was done baking the cakes and cleaning up and bickering about making Ro happy, I was in no mood to frost and fill. So once the oven cooled down, I left them in there thinking I'd do it the next day. Went for a movie (Inception..awesome movie, its a much watch) which got over at 2.30 am, woke up at 12 the next day and was in a mood to have Saravana Bhavan meals for which we had to travel about an hour. So after all that chakkar, we got back home late and was again in no mood to frost and fill the cake (cake, what cake, by then I had actually forgotten about the cake altogether). When we were about to hit the sack Ro asked me like one lost puppy dog, 'can i have a slice of that cake you made yesterday,' and I suddenly realized I screwed up. Shouted at him for having no patience at all and promised I'd have it ready when he got back from work on Monday..and so I started the frosting and filling on two sad looking dry cakes on Monday. Not a pleasant experience working with ganache, and I really don't want to hear the word chocolate for a long long time. Even the photography session was an effort and it hasn't really come out well..apologies!

For the cakes:
Cooking chocolate- 200 gms, broken into pieces (good quality, preferably more than 60 percent cocoa)
Butter- 200 gms at room temp.
Instant coffee powder- 1 tbsp
Water- 125 ml
Plain flour- 85 gms
Self- raising flour- 85 gms
Soda powder- 1/4 tsp
Dark or light brown sugar- 200gms (I used dark)
Caster sugar- 200 gms
Cocoa powder- 25 gms
Eggs- 3
Buttermilk- 75 ml
Bring a saucepan with water to a boil. Simmer, place another heat-resistant cooking vessel on top of it and melt the butter and chocolate pieces. 
Dissolve the instant coffee in water and add to the chocolate mix. Stir well and keep aside.
Whisk together the plain flour, self raising flower, soda powder, both the sugars and cocoa powder. 
Whisk the eggs and buttermilk in a separate bowl and add to the flour bowl along with the chocolate mix. Stir well until just combined, do not over beat it.
Divide the batter and pour into two greased and lined 9 inch cake pans and bake in a pre heated oven (160C) for 60 to 70 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Once done, keep the cake on the rack for about 10 minutes, loosen the sides and insert on to the racks and wait till its completely cooled.
You can cling wrap it and keep it in the refrigerator a day before I guess (wink! wink!)

Baileys Irish cream ganache
Cooking chocolate- 150 gms, broken into small pieces (again more than 60 percent cocoa)
Baileys flavoured thick pouring cream- 285 ml
Caster sugar- 3 tbsp

Melt the chocolate like how I mentioned above and keep aside for a few minutes for it to lightly cool.
Add the whipping cream bit by bit, mixing well after each addition.
Add the sugar at last and mix well, till its dissolved completely.

Place one cake on a cake stand (ya I didn't have one and so struggled with it on a plate) and generously douse some of the ganache and spread it evenly.
Sandwich the other cake and pour the remaining ganache, making sure it spills to the sides and using a knife, smoothen it out (absolutely messy affair).
If you have left over chocolate, grate some onto the top, or dust some cocoa powder on top and dig in :)
Notes: I bought the Baileys pouring cream from the store, but add a 1./4 cup of Bailey's liqueur to the normal cream and ud be fine. Or you can even choose to avoid the baileys and go just chocolate.
Inspite of the cake being a bit dry, the ganache kinda made it ooey no worries there.
If you have a taller cake tin, use that and then slice the cake into two equal halves, which would have made my life so much more easier.
PS: I have created a separate facebook account for my bloggie friends. Do add me if you are on FB. My id is You would probably see two Nisha Thomas add the one that says Open Book by the side. I didn't want to mix my two accounts.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Filo parcels with a mince meat filling

I do not know how to knead and roll out dough. I do not know how to make chapati, paratha or any Indian bread for that matter...nopes not even poori. Thank god for frozen wheat chapatis we get at the local grocery, I really don't know what I would have done without it. Ro and myself have tried out all possible combinations and methods of dough mixes and fail miserably every time. We even bought one of those roti/ chapati press and it still didn't work. Well, if the kitchen/ food gods think we are not meant to learn and do it the right be it. Shana frozen chapati comes to our rescue and when we feel a bit bored with the chapatis, we buy the theplas, the parathas and the kheema parathas (oh yeah!) in between. Please don't jinx me and say..let Shana foods go into insolvency or something like that...I'd be heart broken..really!
I was completely content with this arrangement when we were invited to a friends for dinner and she made the most amazing thing ( N & W if you are reading this..I'm so grateful to you for introducing me to this..its become an absolute fav of ours). She said it was called Murtabak (Murtabaq) and my husband claimed it was similar to Baida roti (yeah he's a closet Mumbaite). Whatever it was, I loved it..even more because there was no kneading and rolling since it was made with filo pastry. I got the recipe outline from her and incorporated my laziness into it, so my version of Murtabaq/ Baida roti/ Mince meat roti goes like this:

Basic mince meat recipe:
Minced beef- 250 gms
Turmeric- 1/4 tsp
Ginger Garlic Paste- 1 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder- 1 tsp
Pepper Powder- 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
Meat masala- 1 tsp (optional)
Salt- to taste

Mix all the powders and GGP along with the mince meat and pressure cook with about 2 tbsp water for about 10 minutes after you put the weight on (approx. 3 whistles). Let off the steam, open the lid and if there is a significant amount of water, cook on high heat for a few minutes till some of the water has evaporated. You can add salt, spice etc. at this point, if there isn't enough. Alternatively, heat some oil in a frying pan and throw in the mince meat along with the gravy and fry on medium heat till all the gravy has been absorbed and it becomes somewhat dry.

For the pastry:
Uncooked filo pastry sheets- 8 large rectangular sheets, each cut into 4 
Egg- 1, lightly beaten
Oil- to lightly grease the pastry sheets and to shallow fry

Place a pastry square (the one you cut out from the big rectangular one) onto a lightly greased plate and using a basting brush lightly brush some oil onto it. Top with another pastry and continue till you reach the 4th pastry which you shouldn't oil.
Top the fourth pastry sheet with about 2 tbsp (or more) of mince meat. Spread it out. You don't want to over fill it, so be sure you even it out.
Now continue with the remaining 4 pastry squares on top of the filled sheet, oiling each before topping. It would be like a parcel, with the sides all held together by the oil and the mince meat filling in between 8 layers. 
So you basically end up using 2 rectangular filo pastry sheets for each filled. (Am I confusing you..cos I myself am a bit confused now..but don't worry its not rocket'd get what I mean when you have the pastries in front of you)
Continue doing this with all the 8 sheets and keep them ready to shallow fry.

Heat a non stick frying pan and drizzle some oil onto it. 
Do an egg wash on one side of the roti and carefully place that side down on the pan. Yup it would sizzle away...and I had the smile of contentment on my face :)
Fry for about 3 to four minutes or till lightly crispy and golden brown.
Do an egg wash on the top side, and flip it. Wait for that side to become brown and crispy and then drain on paper towels.
Continue doing the same to all the 4 parcels.
Serve hot with curd and pickle or slice them up into smaller squares and serve as an appetiser with chutney or chilli sauce.
Notes: You can bake it instead of frying. N told me, it would be a bit dry if you do it in the oven, but if you are health conscious, you might as well do that. Just do the egg wash on both sides and place on a baking tray and follow the instructions given on the filo pastry packet as to how long you need to bake it..prob about 20 to 30 minutes in a 160C oven.
If you do not want to cut the rectangular pastry sheet into 4 square sheets, then you can do the exact same procedure as is and finally when you are about to fry it, cut it into two halves. You can then slice them up into how many ever you want just before serving.
Fillings can be anything..mutton, pork, veggies etc.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Cherry Muffins

Its been quite some time since I posted something sweet here. Well, its not because I haven't been making any at home, its just because they all have a specific recipe and measurements I follow and can be checked any time, whereas the savoury stuff is all from here and there and if I don't pen it down as soon as possible, I completely forget and it just stays in my drafts forever. I have quite a few of those still lying around.
We went over to a friends place for dinner about 2 weeks back and after brainstorming on what to take, I decided on cherry muffins because the cherries at the supermarket were too good and in plenty to resist, needless to mention, I kinda ended up eating quite a bit while pitting.
Since I've seen loadsa cherry recipes on blogs, I thought I'd join the bandwagon and share a cherry recipe myself.
Have a great weekend peeps.
Cherry muffins (yields 12)
loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen's peach cupcakes

Plain flour- 1 1/2 cups
Baking powder- 1 1/4 tsp
Baking soda- 1 1/4 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg- a pinch (optional)
Butter- 3 oz
Granulated white sugar- 3 oz
Packed dark brown sugar- 3 oz
Eggs- 2
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp1 1/4 cup
Cherries- 1/2 to 3/4th cup (pitted)

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Keep aside.
Cream the butter and both the sugars together in a free standing mixer, using a hand blender or with a wire whisk, till light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the vanilla and then buttermilk bit by bit.
Fold in the dry ingredients, making sure no lumps are seen.
Add the pitted cherries and mix again, lightly.
Line a cup cake tray and pour in about one ladle full of batter into each (about 3/4th full) and bake in a pre-heated oven (176C) for 25 to 30 minutes or till golden brown on top and after the skewer test comes out right.
Take them out and cool on a wire rack after about five minutes.
Notes: I have halved the recipe here, double it for 28 muffins.
They were perfectly sweet with the slight tartness of the cherries, which were perfect for me, but if you need it sweeter, you can add some more sugar.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

A bowl of green goodness

Two posts in a awesome is that? Well pretty awesome, considering that I was busy the last three days and didn't have time to even check facebook leave alone write a post :)
But I thoroughly had a nice time taking some of our cousins around London and visiting a few museums and places, I actually hadn't been to. They were getting back from a 10 day Euro trip and since I thought they would be sick of eating bland food, I made some Indian grub. Went to pick up stuff for the meal and saw these green and luscious asparagus spears which I couldn't resist. I have only baked with asparagus and wasn't really sure how good it would be adapted into an Indian dish. Well..that's what experimenting is all about right? So I decided to try out the usual thoran recipe (vegetables sauteed with coconut and spices), you know the authentic side dish to every  mallu meal, and it turned out so darn good, its definitely making its way back into our lives. Being in a place where Indian vegetables are scarce, I don't have a choice but to use veggies like brussels sprouts and broccoli and asparagus for Indian cooking. Needless to mention, I'm totally loving it. I hope you do too.
Green asparagus spears- 500 gms, cleaned
Shredded coconut- 3 tbsp or more
Green chillies- 3, slit lengthwise
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds- 2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Oil- 1 tbsp
Curry leaves- a sprig (optional)

Cut and discard the woody base and chop the asparagus heads into small pieces.
Crush the coconut, green chillies, turmeric powder and cumin seeds together to a coarse mix, either with your hands or with a pestle and mortar.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and splutter mustard seeds. 
Add the coarse coconut mix and the curry leaves (if any) at this stage. Sauté for a few seconds on medium heat, but make sure you don't burn them.
Add the chopped asparagus heads and salt. Stir well, making sure the coconut mix and the asparagus is combined evenly.
Close the lid and cook on medium heat, stirring in between and if it sticks to the bottom, pour about a tsp water.
The thoran should be ready in about 12 to 15 minutes.
Notes: If you want the asparagus a bit crunchy...under cook it a bit and it would taste just as good.
You can replace cumin seeds with a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin powder.

Sending this to Side dishes from India hosted by Suma of Veggie Platter.

Cocktail Hour

Would you believe if i said I couldn't find martini/ cocktail glasses anywhere in London? I have been in and out of stores, even the high end ones, on the look out for cocktail glasses. I finally found them online at Debenhams only to realize they were out of stock. They directed me to John Lewis and I had to pick up a case of six and pay an exorbitant amount for the same. Not that desperate for a martini glass, you'd think! I harassed Ro for so long and was almost about to pick them up on Amazon when a friend of ours was heading out to Ikea (ya Ikea is pretty far away and not easily accessible) and as luck would have it, found a cocktail glass for a mere 1.38. I would have preferred a wide-mouth martini glass, but beggars cant be choosers innit?
Freaked out on cocktails and I had to post the recipes before the excitement died. Ro was absolutely masculine about it and refused to even taste some ...his loss I'd say :P

Cosmopolitan is an all time fav of mine
Vodka- 35ml
Cranberry juice- 25ml
Orange liqueur- 20ml (I used orange juice, or you can skip this if you don't have either)
Lime juice- 2 tsp
Ice cubes- a lot

It just cant get easier than this...mix all of it into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake till all the ice has melted. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange zest.

Monterrey Martini ( a new discovery)
TasteSpotted & Foodgawked

This recipe was found at the back of a hot sauce bottle I'd picked up from Waitrose. It was an altogether different flavour for a martini.

Vodka- 1.5oz
Hot sauce- 1/2 tsp
Ice cubes- a few

In a cocktail shaker, mix the vodka and hot sauce and add the ice cubes one by one shaking gently after each addition. Garnish with olives or jalapeños.

Anjou Gem
Vodka- 35ml
Grapefruit juice- 50ml
Lemon juice- 15ml
Sugar syrup- 15ml
Ice cubes- a few

Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake vigorously till the ice has melted and is cold. Pour into chilled martini glass and garnish with a grapefruit slice (if you have any).

Sugar syrup recipe: Bring 1 part water to a boil and dissolve 2 parts sugar into it stirring continuously. Keep aside to cool and thicken a bit. Use for cocktails and mocktails. An easier way would be to just shake in a bottle equal parts of water and sugar till the sugar has melted :)

Notes: All of the above makes one medium size cocktail glass.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Tortilla Pinwheels- absolute party snack (did I say EASY?)

Had a summer picnic at a friends place today and it was kinda like a pot luck and I was given the job of bringing dessert. Since I was swarmed with work on Saturday- cleaning the house and making some grub for guests coming in on Monday, I conveniently bought a Thorntons celebration cake which was sinful to the core, but ya ya I agree, for a person who considers baking therapeutic, I should be ashamed to buy ready-made cake. I also had to pick up some nibbles, and again was about to buy crisps when I had this sudden thought and decided to MAKE something instead. I'd come across tortilla roll ups on Pan Gravy Kadai and thought of mixing and matching a few other recipes to come up with an easy option. Thank god, this moment of enlightenment happened on isle 6 of Sainsbury's and so picked up all the ingredients required and scooted. 
These tortilla pinwheels turned out nice (atleast Ro and myself thought so) and is incredibly easy to make especially if you have all the ingredients at hand. 

Tortilla- 3 large
Garlic and herb Philadelphia cream cheese- 1 tub, 200gms (room temperature)
Spring onions- 4, sliced
Jalapeño pepper- 1, de seeded and roughly chopped (optional)
Freshly ground pepper- to taste
Baby spinach- 3 cups or more if you please
Cured and cooked ham- 12 slices
Cheddar cheese- 1/2 cup (optional)
Cling film- to roll the tortilla
Mix the softened cream cheese, spring onions, jalapeño and pepper powder together in a large bowl. If its too thick, add a wee bit of water and loosen it up. You can either add grated cheese at this stage or later. 
Clean the spinach leaves (chop if required), drain and transfer to a microwave safe bowl with just enough water clinging form the leaves. Cover and cook in the microwave for 3 minutes. Drain the water.
Heat the tortilla's for about 6 to 7 seconds in the microwave.
Spread the cream cheese mix generously on the tortilla, sprinkle a cup of spinach leaves and spread out four ham slices on to each and top with grated cheese. If you want, sprinkle some freshly ground pepper too.
Roll it up tight, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours or over night.
Once ready, peel off the cling film, cut off the edges and slice the tortilla rolls into bite size pieces.
These pinwheels are best had cold, but you could warm it up too, if you are not that big a fan of cold food. Serve on a platter with salad leaves.
Notes: You can basically choose from a whole array of filling like turkey slices, olives, salmon, prosciutto ham etc.
You can use any soft cheese for the base or maybe even mayo.
Stick a toothpick through and serve it as an appetizer with drinks.

Edited to add: A big big big thanks to all my friends on FB who started following my blog (well after i shamelessly announced I was one follower short of a 100). It did mean a lot to me :)

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Spanish favourite- Paella (two ways)

Did you guys see the Spain- Germany game? I secretly wanted Spain to win and voila they did. And as coincidence would have it, I made this Spanish favourite of ours today, and what better way to say 'way to go Spain' than with this utterly delicious all in one paella (pronounced paeya), a wholesome meal.
I was introduced to Spanish food two years back and there was no looking back. However, it was the Chorizo and seafood paella at Borough Market (Monchichi of 'Not another big menu' has given a nice description of Borough Market) that blew my mind away. Ro and myself used to frequently have lunch dates at Borough Market and if it wasn't the Thai curry stall, then it was definitely Paella and Sangria for lunch on Fridays. I never in my dreams thought I'd actually attempt making paella at home, but after doing some research online, I decided to give it a shot anyways, only to realize its one of the easiest meal preparations, especially because you can add in veggies and meat and what not and have it on its own. There was no hassle of gravy or side dish, just a glass (well a bottle in our case) of Rioja wine and we were happy!
Now, I have made two versions of it. One is the veggie version and the other a chorizo and shrimp version, both equally tasty and not out-of-the-way difficult.

Mixed veg. paella
White onion- 1, thinly sliced
Garlic- 4 pods, crushed and chopped into tiny slices
Courgette- 1 medium, sliced into small cubes
Red pepper- 1, cut into long thin strips (I used one red sweet pointed pepper)
Button mushrooms- 1/2 cup, cleaned and sliced
Jalapeño pepper- 1 large, roughly chopped (optional)
Tomato- 2 large, roughly chopped
Paprika- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp (more if you want a stronger colour)
Cumin powder- 1 tsp
Dried chilli's - 4, crushed
Paella rice/ risotto rice- 1 1/2 cups
Vegetable/ chicken broth/ water- 3 cups (hot)

Frozen peas- a handful
Spring onions/ scallions- 4, white part roughly chopped
Parsley- a few sprigs for garnish (optional)
Olive oil- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Heat the olive oil in a container (big enough to hold the rice) and sauté the onions till soft and fragrant.
Add the garlic and continue sautéing for a few more minutes.
In goes the courgette, red pepper, mushrooms and jalapeño pepper. Cook on medium heat till the veggies are slightly cooked, stirring in between.
Add the chopped tomatoes and keep stirring. Cook till the oil starts to separate.
Add the paprika, turmeric and cumin powder, dried chilli flakes and salt. Combine well, making sure the veggies are all coated well.
Add the paella rice and mix well, stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes, till the rice begins to slightly crackle.
Add the hot stock/ water at this point. Give it a mix, close the lid and cook on medium to high flame till the rice is cooked through. If its starts burning or sticking to the vessel, pour some more water. Its ok if the mix is lightly mushy and loose, that's how the consistency should be.
Check for salt spice, add if required.
Add the frozen peas towards the end, about 3 minutes before you take it off the flame. Stir well and just before serving throw in the scallions and garnish with parsley leaves.

Non- veg version

Spanish chorizo- 3/4 cup, diced
Shrimp- 200gms, de-veined and cleaned

In a frying pan, cook the chorizo slices for 5 to 6 minutes or until soft.
Add the shrimp to this and cook on high heat for a few minutes. The oil oozing out of the paella will give a nice flavour to the shrimp and will also cook it.
Drain on paper towels. Keep aside.

At the stage where you add the green peas to the rice mix, add the cooked chorizo and shrimp and give it a final stir.
Edited to add: this pic got tastespotted and foodgawked:)

Notes: Any vegetable of your choice can be used, for example, zuccini, asparagus, beans etc.
Any meat and seafood of your choice can also be included. Mussels, squid, chicken etc. are very popular
I did not have stock with me, so I used water. It turned out perfectly fine. Next time however I would like to add about a half cup white wine as well.
Paella is actually made in a paella dish which I didn't have. I guess a heavy-based saucepan would be your closest bet.

Sending the Mixed veg. Paella to the AWED-Spain event hosted by Priya this month, brain child of DK  of Chef In You.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sun-dried-tomato buns with a hint of garlic and parsley

I feel like its been ages since I penned down something here. I have just been plain lazy and haven't been doing anything worth blogging about. Even cooking has taken a back seat, for some strange reason and its an effort for me to actually make something even if its only dinner, and styling it and taking pics afterwards make me loathe it even more.
Summer is here in full swing and even though some days are a bit windy, I can still go out in flip flops and not shiver my way back. Dinners at friends' places and relatives visiting us has left us with little or no time on weekends. And with the World cup matches, Ro refuses to budge from in front of the TV. These savoury buns dipped in hot English or Irish stew was perfect for one of those Saturday lunch sessions especially if you have made the buns a day before and stored in an air tight container. The the stew would take no time to prepare if you have a pressure cooker, oh and if you buy the casserole veggies and beef, all cleaned and diced, from the super market...yup laziness personified... that's me :)

White bread flour- 425 gms (I used Hovis)
Salt- 1 tsp
Baking yeast- 7 gms
Warm water- 325 gms

Sun dried tomatoes in oil- 50gms, chopped and drained (more or less according to your taste)
Garlic cloves- 4, finely chopped
Chopped, flat leaf parsley- a handful + enough to decorate
Pepper powder- to taste
Melted butter- a few teaspoons, just enough to wash the buns

Mix the bread flour, salt and yeast along with water in a bowl of a free standing mixer.
Add the tomatoes, garlic cloves, chopped parsley, salt and pepper and knead on medium speed with a dough hook attachment on your mixer, or drizzle some flour on to a clean kitchen surface and knead with your hands, till the dough is smooth and elastic.
Cover and keep in a warm place (I placed it inside my oven) for about 2 hrs or till the dough doubles in size.
Take it out, punch out the air and give it a light knead.
Shape them into tennis-ball sized rolls or even smaller if you please, and place them on a tray lined with baking paper.
Make small indentations on the buns and place a flat leaf parsley for decoration (Creativity flows in abundance when I'm in the mood)
Brush melted butter on top of each bun and leave it aside for 30 minutes, till the dough rises a bit more (you can avoid this step if you are running out of time, I guess).
Place in a pre-heated oven (200C) for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve hot with some spicy beef stew (Do check out the recipe here) or if you want to have it the next day, store in an air tight container and just before serving, place in a pre-heated oven for about 8 to 10 minutes, or steam for a few minutes and you would get soft buns.
Notes: You can also substitute bread flour with plain flour or wholemeal flour.
Parsley can be replaced with oregano or rosemary sprigs.
Add some grated Parmesan cheese while kneading for a cheesy flavour and some dried red chillies for the spice.
The butter wash can be done about 10 minutes before you take the buns out of the oven as well, in case you forgot to do it before, or can be avoided altogether.
If you are the super duper lazy ones like me, then buy the bread mix (you just have to add water and butter) itself from the super market and follow the directions on the cover and add the ingredients starting from sun dried tomato for that added flavour.